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Iranian Baha’i Psychologist Released from Prison

Kamran Rahimian On August 17, 2015, Kamran Rahimian, an Iranian Baha’i counseling psychologist, was released from Raja’i Shahr prison shortly before his four-year sentence was to expire. Mr. Rahimian had been held there, under harsh conditions of confinement, since his arrest on September 13, 2011.

Mr. Rahimian and his wife, Faran Hesami, received their undergraduate degrees in psychology from the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) and, in 2003, graduate degrees from the University of Ottawa in counseling psychology. After completing their studies in Canada, the couple returned to Iran and opened a private counseling practice. Additionally, they worked on a voluntary basis as lecturers in psychology at the BIHE. The BIHE was created in 1987 to provide university-level courses to Baha’i youth, who are prohibited from attending universities and government-sponsored institutions of higher learning in Iran because of their religious faith. (Classes are held online and in private homes. Volunteer faculty members help the university maintain high academic standards, and many graduates go on to pursue advanced degrees abroad. The quality of the coursework has been recognized and accepted for credit by more than 50 universities outside of Iran.)

In 2011 Mr. Rahimian and Ms. Hesami were among several dozen Baha’i educators arrested for their involvement with the BIHE. Following an unfair trial before the Revolutionary Court, both were convicted in early 2012 of “assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security” and sentenced to four years in prison. (Ms. Hesami was released on bail soon after her arrest and was not taken into custody until July 2012, so she is still in prison serving the remainder of her sentence.)